The EUROPP team take a look at the week in Brussels blogging

The EU centre and the crisis

David Cameron and Donald Tusk, Credit: Open Europe (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

This week saw a UK-Polish row over immigration, this time relating to child benefits available to EU migrants whose families are living abroad. Open Europe takes a closer look at the current EU rules around child benefits and finds that despite all the talks around treaty renegotiations and vetoes, EU benefits’ rules do not necessarily require a treaty change.

Lorenzo Marsili at Open Democracy reminds readers that the process of structural divergence within Europe will continue this year, with implications beyond diverging employment, growth and productivity trends. It is likely that increasing social despair will find an outlet for its frustration in this spring’s European elections.

Cas Mudde writes at the Monkey Cage that the European elections may have an impact on the Scottish independence referendum and the upcoming general election in the UK. He argues that a strong Eurosceptic vote in the May elections may alienate Scots, who are generally more pro-EU than the rest of the UK.

Across Europe

Brigitte Granville at Project Syndicate also writes on the independence referendum in Scotland, and the parallels debates over Scotland’s currency have for the Eurozone. She argues that an independent Scotland would be in an extremely difficult situation if it attempted to retain the British pound and would be best served by issuing its own national currency. This is a dilemma any country leaving the Eurozone would also have to face.

Meanwhile, Charlemagne’s notebook looks at Spain and the state of the monarchy. A poor appearance from the King during a speech on 6 January and renewed allegations of “greed” against Princes Christina, who has been named an official suspect in a tax fraud case, are not helping Spain’s ongoing battle with corruption and abuse of power.

Elsewhere, CEPS has a discussion on whether the EU can and should intervene in matters of intelligence and surveillance, following revelations last year that some EU member states operate their own secret interception programmes.

The European neighbourhood

On January 14-15 Egypt will vote in a referendum on the country’s proposed new constitution. While the vote may indicate the degree of acceptance that the political settlement after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi receives, the European Council on Foreign Relations claims it is unlikely to solve Egypt’s problems.

Strategic Europe looks toward Turkey and discusses whether ongoing internal tensions between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, police and prosecutors are posing a danger for the wider region.

Elsewhere, Elena Vlasenko at Open Democracy writes on Yevgeny Urlashov, the democratically elected mayor of Yaroslavl who won against the ruling ‘United Russia’ Party, but is now in jail awaiting trial. She notes that the tourist city on the Volga is failing to become the ‘birthplace of the Russian spring’.

And finally…

On Tuesday, five Berlin supermarkets received boxes filled with bananas and cocaine in what police called a “logistical error” by drug smugglers.

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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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